New Delhi: Capitals of Northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya will be brought within the railway network in next 5-7 years, said Suresh Prabhu, Union railway minister, while inaugurating new train services after the completion of North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek and Balipara – Bhalukpong sections into broad-gauge yesterday.
Presently, only the capitals of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh (for Itanagar the nearest railhead is Naharlagun, which is around 12 km) are on the broad gauge network, and capital of Tripura (Agartala) is connected with meter gauge line. “While Agartala is all set to be on broad gauge network by March 2016, it will be our endeavour to connect the state capitals of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya by rail with the rest of the country in next 5-7 years,” Prabhu said.
He further said to augment railway network in Northeastern region, 13 new lines, three gauge conversion projects and four doubling projects with balance fund requirement of Rs 37,000 crore have been taken up. These projects on completion will augment network by 1,915 km in the region.
Prabhu said that railways have been commissioning around 133 Km broad gauge track every year in the Northeastern region in last 4-5 years. “In 2014-15, a record was made when about 450 Km of lines were commissioned. This year again, we are all set to achieve a new record of commissioning of about 550 kilometres of broad gauge lines in this region,” he said. The Railway Minister also informed that Bogibeel Bridge over river Brahmaputra in Upper Assam is also progressing well and its completion is scheduled for June, 2017. This rail-cum-road bridge, which would be around 5 km long, will connect Dibrugarh district, in south bank, with Dhemaji district on the other side.
Commissioning of newly converted North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek section marks the completion of Rangiya – Murkongselek gauge conversion project running all along the north bank of river Brahmaputra. “This will start a new era of development for the people of this region. This will also serve the defence needs of our country,” the railway minister said.
This 510 Km gauge conversion project costing about Rs 3,600 crore was sanctioned in 2002-03. Prabhu said the project suffered delays in past due to funds constraint.
“But in 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 713 crore was provided for this line and the balance Rs 300 crore has been provided in 2015-16. The results are visible as we are today opening the entire project,” he said while flagging off a new train that would connect Murkongselek, in Dhemaji district bordering Arunachal Pradesh, with Guwahati.